The pandemic has forced many people to rein in their physical contact with others, but one bright spot has been the exception of pets: No one is stopping you from giving your pet cat a nice squeeze.
Unless, that is, you find yourself in quarantine. In that case, experts say that cat owners should not cuddle with their pet.
Uwe Truyen, a professor at the Institute for Animal Hygiene and Public Veterinary Affairs at the University of Leipzig in Germany, warns that humans with Covid-19 can pass it on to house cats if they have close contact. The reverse – cat to human – has not been proven, though experimental studies show cats can pass it to one another.
The symptoms of a feline coronavirus infection resemble a human's: Some cats might show no symptoms at all, while others suffer from loss of appetite, coughing, diarrhoea, vomiting or shallow breathing.
The good news, according to Truyen, is that cats develop a robust, neutralising antibody reaction that prevents infection a second time.
If a cat owner is infected with Covid-19 or believes they're infected, they should avoid close contact with their pet and follow hygiene measures, including wearing a mask when coming into contact with the animal. Owners should wash their hands thoroughly – at least 20 seconds – before and after they touch the cat, its food or toys.
"Infected animal owners should not kiss their cat, share towels with it or let it in bed with them," Truyen warns. An infected cat should be kept at home and not allowed outside to avoid transmitting it. – dpa